Work-related stress

Workplace stress and fatigue not only affect productivity but can also affect the physical and emotional health of your workers.

How are people harmed?

The effects of work-related stress are increasingly becoming an issue for workplaces and the community. This is particularly so in office environments where workers are experiencing increased stress related to their work. 

There is often confusion between challenge and stress in the workplace. While challenge at work can have positive effects on people, work-related stress is a work-related health issue that can pose risks to psychological and physical health.

The effects of work-related stress can vary from individual to individual. In general work-related stress is associated with:

  • Illness and disease
  • Low morale and engagement
  • Anxiety
  • Low productivity
  • Antisocial behaviours.  

What can you do? 

First you should always try to eliminate the risk. Where this is not possible, you need to consider how to minimise the risk. Here are some example control measures to consider:  

  • Set achievable demands for your workers in relation to agreed hours of work.
  • Match worker’s skills and abilities to job demands;
  • Support workers to have a level of control over their pace of work;
  • Develop multi-disciplinary teams to share ideas and perspectives on ways to address situations.
  • Involve workers in decisions that may impact their health and safety, and have processes to enable workers to raise issues and concerns they might have.
  • Ensure managers and supervisors have the capability and knowledge to identify, understand and support workers who may be feeling stressed
  • Provide workers with access to independent counselling services
  • Have agreed policies and procedures to prevent or resolve unacceptable behaviour.
  • Engage and consult with workers before implementing change processes, and ensure they genuinely have the ability to influence the decisions you make.

You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation. 

Get your workers involved

  • Ensure your workers know how to make suggestions, ask questions or raise concerns.
  • Always ask your workers for input on identifying health and safety risks and how to eliminate or minimise them. People are more likely to take responsibility and make good decisions when they have been involved in the conversation. Your workers (including contractors and temps) are the eyes and ears of your business. They can help spot issues, and suggest practical, cost-effective solutions.
  • Always train your workers on what the key risks are and how to keep healthy and safe. 

Find out more about getting your workers involved

Where to go for more information

Stress in the workplace - Employment New Zealand(external link)

Stress and the workplace - New Zealand Nurses Organisation(external link)

Work-related stress - together we can tackle it | Health and Safety Executive (HSE) UK(external link)

Work-related stress - WorkSafe Victoria(external link)

Healthy work : managing stress and fatigue in the workplace (PDF 379 KB)